Thursday, October 6, 2016
The Little Things
I enjoy noticing the little things that are often left out of general synopsizes of philosophers. My presentation on Pythagoras the mystic is an excellent example of that. When reading about Locke, his ideas of the state of nature, the blank slate, and thoughts on reason. Other, far more interesting parts of his philosophy often fall to the wayside, and aren't mentioned.
Locke excluded women and the poor from the rights of citizenship. He states that military commanders do have power over the lives of their soldiers, but they don't have power over their soldiers money; so a fine would be impermissible, but a beating or execution would be perfectly ok. At the same time, taxation is considered necessary. Locke believed that there should be freedom of religion, except when a religion was a threat to the public order; therefore atheists and Catholics were therefore not permitted. Locke wanted freedom of religion within the protestant context. During war between nations, enemies taken hostage can become slaves; a notion that modern members of democracies balk at. Locke also thought very highly of property, making it the foundation of his government: “The great and chief end of men uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property.” Colonial Americans rebelling against taxation makes a lot more sense when perceived from this Lockian standpoint.
As a clever and influential philosopher, Locke and his writing have influenced world history. The American declaration of independence and Constitution give evidence of that. Many of his ideas and concepts were useful and groundbreaking, and he was the founder of philosophical liberalism and empiricism. These great ideals stand out from his smaller and more destructive ones.